Thursday 17 March 2016

Thinking spiritually - versus elections

When it is complained that Christians don't really change for the better, or that Christianity is only for Sundays - what is perhaps being noticed is that we are failing to live by our Christian metaphysics.

It is like we have two programmes in our minds, one secular and one Christian, and we keep on using the secular software whenever we are inattentive.

We say, and we want it to be true, that Christianity is the most important thing, but we don't often use Christianity to explain things - not even the most important things.

This is especially evident with Liberal Christians, who have adopted a scale of socio-political priorities and secular explanations directly from mainstream secular society; and Christianity comes in much later to provide a few superficial flourishes once Leftism has done all the heavy lifting.

But that is the beam in my brother's eye; and I am extremely prone to do something very similar - that is to lapse, without really noticing it, into non-Christian selections of topic and style of thinking. Worryingly, this lapsing sometimes justifies itself to me as being 'this subject is too important' for taking the spiritual perspective.

What about politics itself? To what extent is my mind, or your mind, being colonized by the topics and the talking points that the mass media has decided to place there? In the US this might be today's take on the Presidential election, in the UK it would be the referendum concerning whether to leave the EU.

Partly this is a question of subject matter - but most worryingly it is about how we think. When we think about politics the usual thing is to think about campaigning, public relations and image, hype and spin, horse trading and intimidation, demographics and gerrymandering... that kind of thing.

This kind of thinking is so deeply and completely not-Christian that time spent thinking about elections is simply time deducted from real life. Actually it is worse than mere loss f life; because thinking is partly habitual - so we are ingraining channels of unChristian thinking; meanwhile our patterns of Christian thinking are atrophying. By thinking badly we are are making it harder to think well.

It is a conspiracy to stop us thinking Christianly - actually it is worse: it is a multiplicity of conspiracies competing to make us think in unChristian ways in order to get our attention, manipulate us, exploit us, waste our time and corrupt us. These are reaching us via the mass media, ubiquitous advertizing, casual conversation, official propaganda.

And how well modern Man has been trained! If he ever has a minute to spare from the battering of competing voices, he will feel bored and immediately seek them out. I look around on pubic transportation - where people have a few minutes that they might think for themselves - and everybody is plugged into distractions. A short walk might be a great time to think seriously - but not if you are listening to music, or messaging with social media.

People may be very busy - but apparently never too busy to waste, destroy and dissipate their free time.

But see - even this analysis, this blog post, is just another bit of secular sociology! I started out wanting to talk about how to think spiritually, and have ended by sounding like an opinion piece in the Lifestyle section of a newspaper.

What is needed is to think spiritually, using that spiritual Christian part of our mind, to strengthen those pathways and make them normal and usual. We need to understand the world - select topics, and how to think about topics - using our highest and Christian consciousness.

It would be hard and hazardous to do this all of the time; but it would be easy and wholesome - and of immense and immediate benefit - to do it a lot more than than we do. 


David said...

For a brief while I was compelled to make some critique of this piece, weighing the pros and cons of your arguement's in the manner I was inculcated through many years of being 'taught' critical thinking skills at University and earlier formal 'education'. But there comes a time of dawning awareness that such arguements: Whether to leave the EU or stay, whether Trump will hail ruin for the US compared to Obama, etc. These things are all dogs chasing their own tails, mice running in mazes without exit and an endless distraction from what is important to human beings. These things are mostly undercut and would dissolve as problems were we to follow the path of divine Love towards salvation that is far more expansive and paradoxically simple than such myopic visions of 'progress.' We need to tend our own gardens.

Anonymous said...

Dr Charlton: "It would be hard and hazardous to do this all of the time"

I understand the 'hard' part, but I don't understand what you mean by 'hazardous'.

Am I being a dolt?


Clear Waters said...

When spirituality has been divorced from politics for so long, this is only a natural result. We're forced into a secular paradigm where we realize it or not.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Sadly, the effect of this post was to make me think, "Hey, that's right, I haven't checked the election news in a week or two!" and to send me off to a news site to remedy that oversight. Shame on you for "triggering" a recovering media junkie!

Robert Brockman said...

Recall that the first person to demonstrate thinking in a spiritual Christian fashion 24/7 was betrayed by a close friend, tortured, and executed. Hence, hazardous. However, it worked out fine for him in the end.

Happy Easter!

Karl said...

For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come: not where we elect, but where we are elected.
(Heb 13:14; followed by a parody of Hamlet IV.iii.19)